Rock Spring Cabin (Bert Smith Cabin)

Dotted across the deserts of California are remnants of mining history. Some areas, like the Pegleg Smith Memorial, represent the more otherworldly aspects of this time period. Other areas, like Scotty's Castle, and the Rock Spring Cabin represent the more practical aspects of this time period. During the late nineteenth century, and early twentieth century, physicians would regularly recommend patients head to various deserts in an effort to cure a variety of ailments. While there are no definitive statistics on the success rate of this placebo, it did ensure that the patients lived out the remainder of their days with warm weather and lots of sunshine. 

The Rock Spring Cabin was built in 1929 by a World War I poison gas survivor.

The Rock Spring Cabin in the Mojave National Preserve was constructed by one of these patients - Bert Smith - in 1929. Prior to journeying to the Mojave, Bert was a veteran of World War I, where during his service he had been exposed to poison gas. Because of the damage to his lungs from the gas, he was told that he did not have long to live, and that the “dry air” of the desert might prolong his life. Either because of the medicinal “dry air”, or other factors, Bert ended up living for twenty-five years at the cabin he constructed, near Rock Spring. Much later, long after his death, Carl Faber lived in the cabin, and regularly greeted travelers and visitors who stopped by the remote location. Today, the cabin is a relic of a long-lost time, and is locked to visitors, but provides a great backdrop for photos, and a great jumping off point for hikers to explore the Rock Spring Loop Trail.

Today the Rock Spring - or Bert Smith Cabin - is a historic curiosity in the middle of the Mojave National Preserve

Directions: The Mojave National Preserve is a remote location, and the cabin itself is in a remote location off the infamous Mojave Road. Visitors to the area should first, be prepared for rugged conditions - unpaved road, rutted out roads, and other off-road conditions - with plenty of gasoline, water, and a spare tire. Second, visitors should be prepared to spend a fair amount of time traveling from one point to the other within the preserve, or in and out of the preserve. Although there are numerous ways to get to the cabin, the easiest is to exit Interstate 40 at the Essex exit, and head north for twenty miles to Hole in the Wall. From Hole in the Wall, visitors will want to continue to follow the road north for ten miles, but should be aware that the road is unpaved after the first mile, and road conditions vary. After ten miles, travelers will be at a “T” junction which is the Mojave Road. From this point, visitors will want to turn left (east) and follow the dirt road for an additional five miles, at which point the cabin, and the parking area can be easily spotted.

Rock Spring Cabin

Rock Spring Cabin

Tips: The Mojave National Preserve is a wild area. As noted above, visitors should be prepared, especially as many areas of the preserve still lack cell coverage even in 2018.

Rock Spring Cabin